Thursday, September 1, 2016

Meeting Sept 6th: Updating population genetics

D. melanogaster, by Qinyang Li
Posted by Jessica Abbott

Like many other researchers who use experimental evolution today, I plan to investigate the genetic changes that have occurred in our experimental populations using sequencing. That's why I found this paper particularly interesting - it deals with how the assumptions of standard population genetics models don't fit well with current empirical data on rapid evolution, and how genomics studies might help to solve this problem.

Title: Can population genetics adapt to rapid evolution?

Abstract: Population genetics largely rests on a ‘standard model’ in which random genetic drift is the dominant force, selective sweeps occur infrequently, and deleterious mutations are purged from the population by purifying selection. Studies of phenotypic evolution in nature reveal a very different picture, with strong selection and rapid heritable trait changes being common. The time-rate scaling of phenotypic evolution suggests that selection on phenotypes is often fluctuating in direction, allowing phenotypes to respond rapidly to environmental fluctuations while remaining within relatively constant bounds over longer periods. Whether such rapid phenotypic evolution undermines the standard model will depend on how many genomic loci typically contribute to strongly selected traits and how phenotypic evolution impacts the dynamics of genetic variation in a population. Population-level sequencing will allow us to dissect the genetic basis of phenotypic evolution and study the evolutionary dynamics of genetic variation through direct measurement of polymorphism trajectories over time.

Tuesday September 5th at 10.00 in Argumentet, as usual.

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